21 May 2014
This is a re-post from the blog of Dr. Marshall Shepherd, past president of the American Meteorological Society.
(Highlighting is mine)
The lesson here is that you must consume information from credible or expert sources. Ask yourself if the author of that blog or Op-Ed has a background in the science, has published in peer-reviewed journals, or at least put forth their position in a forum that can evaluated, tested, or scrutinized. Additionally, it is important to remember that just because people have “equal access” to experts in formats like Twitter, it doesn’t mean “equal expertise.” My 7 year old could tweet his view on the onset of El Nino, but it doesn’t mean it is credible.
Second, the public must understand that just because you know a TV personality, it doesn’t signify that they are an expert on climate or vaccines. While this may sound trivial, many celebrities reach millions of people, and I am convinced that some fall lock step with their viewpoint just because they like them or their show. Likewise, it is important to remember that “weather is your mood, climate is your personality.” Expertise in day-to-day weather forecasting is not necessarily expertise in climate analysis, modeling, and processes.
Every now and then, I get the question, “So how can we trust a climate model in the year 2040, if a weather model is not good beyond 7-10 days?” That question immediately tells me there is a gap in background because climate models are not predicting the exact state of the atmosphere (weather) on Wednesday in 2040. It is an apples and oranges discussion. More disturbingly, I have received that question from a few people that reach the public every day.
Having said that, there are a ton of outstanding colleagues in the broadcast world that do an amazing job with weather and climate.
Finally, irrespective of viewpoint, the name-calling and bullying must stop. We are not 5th graders. Scientists are trained to disagree and have scientific discourse without taking it personally. There are colleagues that I fundamentally disagree with on aspects of this issue yet still respect them and interact with them in a professional, social and respectful manner.
“Unpatriotic racists?” ….I clearly serve my country and have yet to figure out how to discriminate against myself or anyone else. I am an African-American scientist. I am the immediate Past President of the largest professional society in this country associated with weather and climate (AMS). I served on a Pentagon-commissioned study on climate and national security. I was a NASA scientist for 12 years. I currently serve on advisory boards for NOAA and NASA, respectively.
Meanwhile, I am curious to see if I can use the “Wheel” to teach anything about vorticity, force, or shear in a future meteorology class 🙂